CSA Newsletter: Volume 4, Issue 4


Flying Tomato Farms News

A newsletter for members of Flying Tomato Farms C.S.A.

Vol. 4, Issue 4

GARDEN NEWS:

Things are steamy in the gardens—all the rain has made the weeds grow doubletime.

I’ve been transplanting a few more heads of romaine lettuce and watching the tomato and potato plants carefully for signs of weather stress. They are getting a bit of leaf-curl from the heavy rains, but should recover when things dry out a bit. The flea beetles are out, so I’ve been using an organic diatomaceous earth/pyrethrin dust on them. I’ve only seen one Colorado Potato Beetle so far, but I’m sure there’ll be more.

I’ve been chomping at the bit to get winter squash planted, but the rain has been keeping that from happening. Sometime this week I think I’ll be able to get a variety or two in. I’m hoping to do both spaghetti squash and the small teacup squashes as well. They are the most difficult crop to grow in my garden—their long season and tough predators make success with organically-grown winter squashes a little questionable. I usually start the plants under row covers, but once they start to blossom, the covers have to be removed, and then the cuke and squash beetles invade in force.

THIS WEEK’S DELIVERY:

Radishes, cilantro, dill, asparagus, broccoli raab (rapini), and rhubarb.

This is a gritty week for deliveries—the only item I’ve rinsed in this week’s bag is the radish bunches (that was just a little too much mud!). Otherwise, I harvested and bunched the rhubarb, broccoli raab, asparagus, and dill right in the field, and the cilantro I harvested into a big tub and then bagged so it would stay fresher longer (though it obviously needs a couple of rinses before use).

This will be the last week for radishes—I had hoped to get three weeks of deliveries out of the row, but the steamy weather is causing many of the plants to bolt (run to seed), resulting in a woody root. So enjoy your big bunch, and look forward to the next root crop of the season: turnips. Those should be coming to deliveries within a couple of weeks.

Some hate it; some love it: either way, cilantro (or Chinese parsley) is a versatile herb with blood cleansing properties, much like regular parsley. It’s great as a garnish, and works wonders to freshen up bottled salsas, but it also makes a fabulous Cilantro Pesto with a little feta cheese, a clove of garlic, a few peanuts, and a liberal squeeze of lime juice (amounts all vary according to taste). I usually use peanut oil, but any other mild-flavored oil works—this is one place where a flavorful olive oil doesn’t work: try canola or safflower instead. You can blend the concoction in a food processor, or grind it with mortar and pestle like the old-timers. Either way, it’s great on pasta, and makes a nice appetizer spread for some Mr. Smith’s salted baguette.

Dill is another versatile herb that loves lighter meats like fish or chicken, as well as summer potato salads and roasted potatoes. I like a little snipped into a salad (hence its appearance in last week’s Goddess Mix) or layered on a sandwich. It’s also good in the light chilled soups of summer, such as Vichyssoise and Gazpacho. Dill volunteers wildly in my garden—I let a few heads run to seed every year so the planting in done for me. This dill is mostly thinned out of my carrot and radish rows!

This will be the last week of asparagus—it is getting too hot for it to continue to be of high quality. I also like to give the plants a break toward the end of the season so they can gain strength for next year’s crop. I might harvest a little for next week’s farmers market, but this will be its last appearance in the deliveries.

Broccoli raab, or rapini, is a traditional Italian cooking green. While there were some young rapini leaves in last week’s salad mix, this harvest is of the larger crop I was growing under cover. You’ll see a few of the flower buds that belie its more civilized cousin, but unlike regular broccoli, rapini is often harvested even as its flowers open.

The traditional method of cooking rapini is very simple: trim the bottom ends of the stalks (it’s easiest if you do this before removing the rubber band), wash it, and toss it in a hot skillet with olive oil and a little garlic just until wilted. Then serve! It can also be added to any stir-fry (toward the end of cooking), or chopped for addition to casseroles, etc. It has a stronger flavor than regular broccoli—a little more mustard or turnip-green tasting.

The rhubarb is once again from John Fremsted’s patch here in town. You can chop and freeze rhubarb for later use easily—it does not need blanching. Just chop the stalks, toss with sugar if desired, and throw in a freezer bag.

You can also visit me and all the other growers and producers at the Vermillion Area Farmers Market. We set up on Thursday evenings from 3-7pm at the Clay County Fairgrounds, corner of Cherry and High Streets.

Remember to

WASH YOUR VEGGIES!

(Especially this week!)

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